Manet came from a well–to–do family, and this painting provides a glimpse of the sophisticated Parisian world he loved. He was uncomfortable in the countryside, preferring instead the finery of the city. These elegant men and coquettish young women are attending a masked ball held each year during Lent. "Imagine," ran a description in the newspaper Figaro, "the opera house packed to the rafters, the boxes furnished out with all the pretty showgirls of Paris. . . . " There is little doubt about the risqué nature of the evening, where masked young women, likely respectable ladies concealing their identities, scantily clad members of the Parisian demimonde, and well–dressed young men all mingle together.
Manet sketched the scene on site, but painted it over a period of months in his studio. He posed several of his friends—noted writers, artists, and musicians—and even included himself in the crowded scene. He is probably the bearded blond man at right who looks out toward the viewer. At his feet, a fallen dance card bears the painter's signature.
At the edges of the horizontal painting—a format Manet used often—figures end abruptly. At top, legs dangle over a railing. In contrast to the self–contained compositions of academic art, we are instantly aware that we see only a part of the scene and that it extends beyond the picture frame.
lower right: Manet
Marks and Labels
Jean-Baptiste Faure [1830-1914], by 1873; (Faure sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 29 April 1878, no. 40, bought in); Jean-Baptiste Faure until at least 1884. (Durand-Ruel et Cie, Paris and New York); sold 16 January 1894 to Henry Osborne Havemeyer [1847-1907], New York; by inheritance to his wife, née Louisine Waldron Elder [1855-1929], New York; by inheritance or gift to Mrs. Horace Havemeyer [née Doris Anna Dick, 1890-1982]; gift 1982 to NGA.
- Exposition Manet, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1884, no. 69.
- Exposition of Paintings by Edouard Manet, Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York, 1895, no. 29.
- Manet and Modern Paris, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1982-1983, no. 39, repro.
- Manet, Grand Palais, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1983, no. 138, repro.
- Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990, no. 24, repro.
- Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1993, no. 357, pl. 196.
- Paris in 1874: The Year of Impressionism, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 1994, no. 79, repro.
- Manet, Monet, and the Gare Saint-Lazare, Musée d'Orsay, Paris; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998, no. 26, fig. 140.
- Faces inthe Crowd: Picturing Modern Life from Manet to Today, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin, 2004-2005, 58-63, unnumbered catalogue.
- Bilder einer Metropole: Die Impressionisten in Paris (Images of a Capital - The Impressionists in Paris), Museum Folkwang, Essen, 2010-2011, no. 45, repro..
- Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The National Art Center, Tokyo; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 2011, no. 26, repro.
- Manet : ritorno a Venezia, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, 2013.
- Duret, Théodore. Histoire d'Edouard Manet et de son oeuvre. Paris, 1906: 142-145.
- Duret, Théodore. Manet and the French Impressionists. Translated by J.E. Crawford Flitch. London and Philadelphia, 1910: 68-69, 233, no. 153.
- Blanche-Jacques-Emile. Propos de Peintre: De David à Degas. Paris, 1919: 133.
- Moreau-Nélaton, Etienne. Manet, raconté par lui-même. 2 vols. Paris, 1926: II: 7-12, 47, 114. repro. fig. 175, no. 69.
- Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture, and Objects of Art, Part II, Paintings and Pastels, Collections of the Havemeyer Family, privately printed for Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1931:404, repro.
- Meier-Graefe, Julius. "The Manet Centenary" Formes XXIV (April 1932): 251-253.
- Colin, Paul. Manet. Paris, 1937:119.
- Venturi, Lionello. Les archives de l'impressionnisme. 2 vols. Paris and New York, 1939: II:205
- Florisoone, Michel. Manet. Monaco, 1947:XIV
- Richardson, John. Edouard Manet: paintings and drawings. London, 1958: 31.
- Rouart, Denis and Daniel Wildenstein. Edouard Manet, catalogue raisonné 2 vols. Lausanne and Paris, 1975: no.216.
- Hanson, Anne Coffin. Manet and the Modern Tradition. New Haven and London, 1977:42
- Weitzenhoffer, Frances. The Creation of the Havemeyer Collection, 1875-1900. Ph.D. diss., The City University of New York, 1982: 225,-226, 244 n. 6, no. 61.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 450, no. 652, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 247, repro.
- Borowitz, Helen O. "No Strings: Some New Sources for Manet's Pulichinelles." Nineteenth-Century French Studies15. no. 4(Summer 1987): 425-451, repro.
- Distel, Anne. Les collectionneurs des impressionnistes. Amateurs et marchands. Paris, 1989:78, repro.
- Nochlin, Linda. The Politics of Visions: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society. New York, 1989: 75+, repro.
- Französische Impressionisten und ihre Wegbereiter aus der National Gallery of Art, Washington und dem Cincinnati Art Museum, Exh. cat. Neue Pinakothek, Munich, 1990: no. 24, repro.
- Coman, Florence E. Joie de Vivre: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1991: no. 10, repro.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 9, 297, color repro.
- Carr-Gomm, Sarah. Manet. London, 1992: 106, repro.
- Callen, Anthea. The Spectacular Body: Science, Method and Meaning in the Work of Degas. New Haven and London, 1995:70, repro.
- Bailey, Colin B. Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age. Exh. cat. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, in association with National Gallery of Canada Ottawa, 1997:no. 74, repro.
- Kelder, Diane. The Great Book of French Impressionism, 1997, no. 95, repro.
- Manet, Monet, and the Gare Saint-Lazare. Exh. cat. Musée d'Orsay, Paris; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1998: no. 26.
- Mena Marqués, Manuela B. Manet en el Prado. Exh. cat. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2003: 91, repro.
- Alsdorf, Bridget. Fellow Men: Fantin-Latour and the Problem of the Group in Nineteenth-Century French Painting. Princeton, 2013: 193, 197-198, color plate 28.
- Harris, Neil. Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience. Chicago, 2013: 246, 248.
- Duve, Thierry de. “The Invention of Non-Art: A History.” Artforum 52, no. 6 (February 2014): 198, 199, color fig.
Work of Art
Work of Art
- Event Name
- March 1–June 1
- Mon, Tues, and Wed at 1:00
- March 5, 2012 at 2:00
March 7, 2012 at 4:00
- East Building, Auditorium
- Name of docent
- 60 minutes
- Registration for this event begins on April 1, 2012 at noon.
- Download the program notes (100k)
- Italian Collection